Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why You need a Leftovers Board

You know the scene.

You're cleaning out the fridge.  Who knows when you last did it, but you've been putting it off, for sure.
You find something in a small plastic container in the back of the fridge.
You think to yourself, "What is this?"  It's no longer recognizable, and when you finally get the courage to open it, it smells like death.
You find another container, filled with part of a meal that you forgot about, or a couple servings of vegetables.  Maybe with green or white fuzzy decorations.  You feel sad because you probably would have eaten that one thing, if only you'd remembered it was in there...before it was inedible.

You find another container that you think was from a pretty recent meal, but then all of the sudden... you're not sure.  Is it safe to eat?

You end up throwing most of the food in your fridge out, because it's not worth a couple bucks to get sick, right?

Here's the solution:
Ba- ba- dum!
A LEFTOVERS BOARD.  A place to write down all of your leftovers and when they got put in the fridge in the first place.

Now, this might seem a little tedious, but this is worth your time for several reasons.

First off, you save a lot of food and money, because you don't just "forget" about anything in the back of the fridge.  You can use those leftovers up before they get weird.

Secondly, when you DON'T use those leftovers in time, you KNOW they aren't safe to eat.  That little container of whatever has been in the fridge for 4 weeks.  Gross.  No guessing, no remembering what meal you paired that random side with.  Just check a date, keep it or trash it.

Third, it's a lovely shame game that makes you clean out your fridge more often.  If I know that I have company coming over in 2 days, I'm going to want to either eat (or throw away) food items that, according to their dates on the leftover board, have been in there a liiiiiiiittle too long.  Nobody wants their guests to think, "Is my food old?"

In order for it to work, you need to be consistent.  For maximum efficiency, you should also should write the date on the actual food item.  That way, if you accidentally end up with 2 containers of corn in the fridge, you know which one was from 3 days ago and which was from 3 weeks ago.

I also like to write the dates that I opened non-"leftovers items.
Applesauce.  Sour cream.  Apple butter.  Pasta sauce.  Deli meat.
Stuff that you don't always use right away.  Stuff that has an expiration date 2 months out, but says, "Use within 7 days" on the package.

I know some people would disagree with me, that food is usually good longer than I say it's good for, but I definitely would rather air on the side of wasting money than on the side of food poisoning.

Therefore, I really need my leftovers board, to help me use food before it gets to the questionable stage.

Funny story:  One time, I made peanut butter no bake cookies, and my husband put them in a container in the fridge.  And he wrote a date on the container.  Hahahahahaha like they would ever get close to going bad.  Some things don't need dates, right?

You think you will eat that thing.  You know, the thing you're thinking of.
Pizza?  Pumpkin pie?  Grilled steak?
The thing.

Sometimes, there is literally no way.  Like me, and no-bake cookies.  Those are going to be gone within 24 hours, I don't care how big the batch is.

But most other things?  Things you love?  Meals you slaved over, and poured your heart into?
I don't care how much you love it, or how much you think you'll eat all of it soon.  I don't care if you have plans for using the rest of that sauce for dinner tomorrow, or that you'll pair the extra green beans with lunch.
Plans change.
Write it on the board.
Always always always.

Now, the actual board?  Do whatever works for you.  Chalkboard & chalk.  A note on your phone.  A dry-erase board (my favorite).  Make it something you see a lot, otherwise, you won't actually use food.

So, try it out.  Give it 2 weeks.  See how it changes your food life.

And then tell me in the comments how it's so annoying to update.  And that you love it!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Doing the Whole 30 (Like a non-health-psycho person)

I don't naturally love the Whole30 for several reasons.

First off, I love me some dessert. My husband and I get into these kicks where we make a certain dessert 923498730 times in like 2 weeks, just because we found it and love it.

Last month, it was cinnamon rolls.  We realized that even though we both love them, we had never made them before, and promptly fixed the problem by making them a dozen times that month.....
That's reason #1 that we need to do the Whole30, and the same reason that I don't want to.

I also love cheese (I've gotten this new fix with freshly grated Parmesan) and bread (homemade, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside) and milk (right from the jug, judge me).

However, eating poorly and having babies does stuff to you (1248239 pounds later) and the hubster and I are both looking for a weight loss program that doesn't make us hungry, cause we ain't about that life.

So there you have it.  I am admitting that I care about 20% about the actual health benefits of the Whole30.  Mostly, I want a relatively reliable weight loss program.
If you read on the Whole30 website, it's pretty funny, cause they're all like, "This program is only 30 days!..........but you won't want to stop.  Ever. You're never going to enjoy eating cheese again mwahahaha."

To a very very VERY small extent, I agree.  I have done the Whole30 several times before (Well, mostly.  The first time, I quit on day 28 for some puppy chow.  The second time, I quit about 2 or 3 weeks in for some chocolate chip cookies, and because I was pregnant and I didn't want anyone telling me what to do.  So there.  The third time, my husband and I actually FINISHED strong, and it wasn't TOO bad, because we were prepared.)

Whole30 promotes a positive awareness of implementing more fruits and veggies and healthy fats.  I felt great on the Whole30, and I actually felt super super sick after I ate the (aforementioned) puppy chow.  It wasn't even as good as I thought it would be.  (Don't worry, I recovered fully and I enjoy sweets just fine now.)

However, never eating cheese again?  Or ice cream?  Who are these people?  This is just not realistic for the average person who loves food or who has a brain.

I remember laughing inside at some pitiful girl who didn't know how to tell her boyfriend that she wasn't ever going to eat chips again.
What a weirdo.

So, from the get-go, know these 3 things.

1 - I want to be healthier and lose weight, and I believe that the Whole30 is a positive program that will help me accomplish those goals and help me towards a better lifestyle.
2 - I like normal 'Merican food, like burritos and burgers.
3 - I am going to make cinnamon rolls next month.

So, without further ado...

My tips for a successful Whole30 as a normal person:

1.  Don't be ignorant.  Learn the rules, figure out what you can and can't have, and do the program right.  Don't complain that you didn't see or feel any results if you were constantly bending the rules.

2. Make normal meals. Why are people making this harder than it needs to be?  My first go around was dreadful.  I looked up all these weird meals on Pinterest, and they're all like, "Every meal, just eat eggs and exotic peppers dipped in fresh air, and you will be happy.  Look at how skinny I got."
I lost more weight on my first Whole30 because the food was boring and repetitive and I hated eating.  So I ate less. That's not the way to go.  Dieting is much less likely to be successful (long-term) if you hate it.  I don't have a scientific link to support that.  Just common sense.
LISTEN TO ME.  Adapt your regular meals to be compliant.  Seriously!

Here is a list of stuff that normal people eat that you can make:
- Burgers (top your meat with mustard and homemade mayo, wrap it in lettuce (or slices of pineapple, or slices of baked potato!), and eat with some compliant veggie chips from WalMart)
- Shish Kebabs. Those things are just meat and veggies anyway. Helloooooo.
- Vegetable soup.  I have one zingy recipe that saved my husband and I during our first Whole30, cause it was so good, and we didn't plan ahead enough, so we just made this over and over.  It only took us 5,000 times to get tired of it.  Now we hate it.  But I know we used to love it.  Haha.  So when I get around to posting it, you should try it out.
- Oven baked fries!  Sweet potatoes or white potatoes.  Slice them up, season them with compliant spices, and drizzle them with olive oil.  BAM.  Not a diet.
- Deviled eggs are my very favorite thing.  Make your own Whole30 mayo and you can make deviled eggs.  Which do NOT feel like a diet. Which brings me to....
- Dressings and sauces.  I remember Day 1 of my first Whole30.  It was lunch time.  I was excited for the program, and I spent all this time making a rocking salad... only to realize that I had no dressing to put on it.  We ate the salad dry, and it was disgusting.
After researching compliant salad dressings, you're going to find out real quick that they are not cheap.  I'm invested in my health, but HOW invested in my health...?  Solution: Make. Yo. Own.  Once you make homemade mayo, you can make a LOT of salad dressings out of the mayo, using it as a base.  I love the Whole30 ranch and Italian dressings I've made, and there are lots of dressings that I haven't tried yet that are out there.
- Salad. Why not?  Vary it up, have a salad erry day.
- TACO salad.  So good.  I love when I don't feel like I'm dieting.  BUT I AM.
- Smoothies are semi-illegal.  But we made them anyway, cause honestly it's the worst to eat vegetables for breakfast.  And because they weren't completely illegal.  Haha.
- Chili.  You don't need beans (although I love a good bean-filled chili), you can use veggies like zucchini or sweet potatoes.  Top it with some avocado and you're set.  Mealime has a great bean-free chili recipe.

Food tips:
- Use food apps that mix it up for you.  The Mealime app has a lot of compliant meals.  I'm sure there are other similar apps, but Mealime was super handy during our 3rd Whole30.  It was also nice that Mealime created my shopping list for me. Holla.
- Replace noodles with zoodles.  No, not the same, but it helps.
- Just leave out cheese (or other non-compliant foods).  I have a Chicken Zucchini dish that make, where I just leave out the cheese, and it's great on Whole30.
- Search Paleo meals on Pinterest.  They're not always 100% compliant, but it's a good start, and there are more Paleo recipes out there than Whole30.  You can always adapt them, but use them as a base.
- Use a variety of meats.  Chicken, beef, fish, pork, turkey.  Mix it up.

3. Meal plan 2 weeks of meals, and do that same plan twice.  That's not too bad, right?  It makes it so you can stick to relatively normal foods, and it won't kill you to have the same meals twice in a month.  I liked doing it this way, because when you're used to living off of pasta, sandwiches, and cheesy deliciousness, it can be difficult to plan Whole30 meals that are actually appealing.  Let's be honest, here.  This way, you only have to plan 14 dinners, instead of 30.  Throw in a few extra meal ideas, just in case.  Plan a variety of breakfasts and lunches as well.
Also, meal plan BEFORE you start the Whole30.

3.5.  When I Whole30, I keep a list on the fridge of Breakfast ideas, Lunch ideas, Sides ideas, and Snack ideas.  It's so hard to be creative when you're hungry.  Do the hard work ahead of time.
I keep my dinner meal plan on the fridge, as well.

4. Mental preparation is just as important as physical prep.  More important, really.  This is less of a physical battle. I am telling you now.  We, as a human race, are mentally unstable creatures who crave things like sugar and carbs, and when we just NEED a chocolate milk, no amount of apples or carrots or delicious lemon garlic tilapia is going to satisfy that.
If you're not mentally ready, you're going to have a rough journey.  Do you really WANT this?  Are you ready to turn down food offered at events or at a friend's house?
- I have also heard that the Whole30 book "It Starts with Food" helps a lot with mental stamina, but I'm too cheap to buy it.  That is also why I probably don't care about the specific health benefits of the program. Eh.

5. Physical prep is also absolutely essential:

- Do. Not. Have. Temptations. In. Your. House.  AKA non-compliant foods that you happily eat daily. Don't try to be "strong," that's stupid.  Just get rid of them.  Give them away to friends.  There will be plenty of opportunities for you to be strong, believe me.  If you spent a bunch of money on non-compliant food (like bulk blocks of cheese, etc.), then store them in the freezer, or have a friend store them at their house for a month.  You'll thank me.  It's a lot easier to not quit the Whole30 when you have nothing great to quit for.

- Have easy snacks on hand.  You get home from work.  It's 4 PM.  Not quite time for dinner, but you're REALLY hungry.  You'd better have some hard boiled eggs or a baggie of yummy fruit in the fridge, cause nobody wants to meal prep when they're hangry.

- Go shopping BEFORE you start.  Don't think you're going to feel excited with an empty fridge.

- Have a good plan for work, or for vacations or day trips.  Your break room is generally not going to be brimming Whole30 compliant goodies.  Same goes for fast food joints.

6.  Support support support!  Seriously.  Get someone else to do it with you, preferably in your house.  Soooo many times that I just wanted to quit -- cause seriously I wanted a thick slice of bread or a melty chocolate chip cookie and who cares about being healthy?! -- and my husband talked me out of it.  I was so grateful for him doing it with me.
Think about this for just a little minute.  Are you cooking for other people in your house?  Do you love cooking all day?  Guess what?  Whole30 is a lot of cooking and chopping vegetables.  There aren't many convenience foods or quick processed food options.  If you don't LOVE cooking, chances are, you aren't going to want to make your Whole30 compliant meal AND an extra meal for your kids who are beyond picky AND an extra meal for your husband who would rather eat something with flavor or cheese, thanks?  Oh yeah, and try that 3 meals a day.  No, thank you.
Get your kids and spouse on board.  Obviously this might be harder with the kids, but don't let them think that they get a different meal than you every night.
If you're in college or whatever, try to get your roommates on board.  Do you really feel like coming home hungry, fixing up a plate of deeeee-licious veggies and chicken... and watching your roommate eat that cheesy pizza?

I'm not saying it's impossible.  I'm just saying you need to plan for it, and one of the easiest ways to succeed is to bring other people on board with you.

If you can't get your family on board, get a friend to do it with you, or join an online Whole30 group.

7. Realistically, look at the calendar.  Is your birthday this month?  Your favorite holiday?  3 different social events with delicious food?
You need to think about these things, and decide whether you want to be eating a blueberry smoothie for your birthday, cause that's the closest thing to dessert that's remotely allowed. (True story, about my Whole30 birthday. 2 years ago. *Sobs.*)  The Whole30 people will probably say that it doesn't matter what month you do it... but normal people have emotions, and it matters.

So there you have it.  My normal- person tips for having a successful Whole30.

Honestly, if you plan ahead, it won't be that bad.  Your body is going to fight it, and your brain is going to fight it, but in the end, with preparation and a support system, it's not impossible, and it's only 30 days.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or anything to add.

Happy Whole30ing!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baby Clothes Door Hanging Organizer

Baby Clothes Organization

So, with Baby #3 on the way, I only have a few months to get everything ready for baby's arrival!
I have a list of tasks to accomplish before then, but one of the most dreaded tasks is organizing the seemingly endless mountains of baby clothes.

A few months before my first child was born, I was blessed with the chance to see, close-up the "baby clothes organization" of several different moms and babies.

How do you keep all those little clothes in little piles and find them, without it being a total hassle?  Within 2 days, any clothes system would become a tornado of socks and pants and little tiny onesies.

After seeing these total messes, and remembering the total OCD person that I was (haha), I set out to find a method to keep the clothes accessible, organized, and convenient...without being too much of a pain to maintain.

I came across this great idea on Pinterest, and I'm never going back!
I've used it successfully on our previous children.
Used along with our Baby Clothes' long-term storage (LINK), this method is one of the BEST for keeping baby clothes organized!

*Disclaimer: This is for babies, not toddlers.  Toddler clothes are too big to make this system effective.

Okay, so how do you make this work, you ask?

Materials needed:
1. Shoe hanging organizer (16-24 pockets).  Preferably one you can see through, like a thin mesh, or clear plastic.  It'll be a lot easier to keep track of clothes.  Honestly, it doesn't need to be high quality or super expensive.  This one from Amazon would work. Or there are some seriously cheap ones on eBay like this one.  Or you can keep your eyes out at yard sales.

2. Sticky labels.  Trust me on this one.  You think you'll remember where the baby socks are supposed to go, or how many pockets you designated to short sleeved onesies, but after a month of sleep deprivation, nothing is certain.

Step 1:
Pull out all the clothes.

Sort the clothes into piles. You need to know what you're dealing with.  Analyze the types and amounts of clothes you have.  Pants, shorts, onesies, swimming suits, shoes, socks, hats, bloomers, etc.  We are going to assume at this point that you have already organized and purged the clothes, and that you actually want all of these things. (LINK.)

TIP: If you have older children, this process would probably be less stressful during nap time or after bedtime.  Nothing like tiny helping (reorganizing) hands to make the whole process a little more fun, amiright?

Step 2:
Fold all the clothes.

Be aware.  There are effective methods of folding baby clothes that will make the clothes more visible, and therefore that will make your life easier.

If someone is going to be helping you with the baby (like your husband, mom, aunt, babysitter, etc.), then make sure they know how to fold the clothes this way, as well.

Here's a really great way to fold onesies:
- Fold onesies a certain way. (PICTURE)

Here's a great way to fold and stack pants:
- Stack pants as such... layered, 3-4 pairs.

Step 3:
Load 'er up.
- Depending on the baby's age, and the thickness of the clothes, 3-5 onesies will fit in each holder. (PIC)
- 3-4 pants usually fit nicely.

TIP: Remember that within a few short months (or earlier, if you have older children), the bottom rows will be reachable, and therefore destroyable.  Don't put clothes at the bottom that are super annoying or tedious to refold.  I usually put things like shoes, socks, or hats at the bottom--- things you can just stuff back in.

Step 4:
Label everything.

I'm going to assume that with a plastic hanging organizer, you could stick the labels right onto the front of each pocket.  The 2 organizers that I've dealt with have been mesh, and that made it necessary to stick my labels on the door instead.

DIY Easy Ironing Board Update

So, I got this little ironing board at a yard sale for a couple of dollars.

It was a little answer to prayers, cause I needed an ironing board, but I didn't want to: 1. Take up too much space, or 2. Spend very much on it.
I don't even iron that much, so there was no need to be extravagant.

After I got this one, I was grateful for it, but it didn't really make me "happy" to look at it...which isn't important, but as small as my craft room is, I want everything in there to make me happy.

So.  I took a GIANT shirt that I got at a different yard sale for 25c....

I flipped the ironing board over on top of the fabric, pulled the fabric tight, and used my nifty difty Dewalt (not affiliated, we just like Dewalt) staple gun to attach it to the bottom of the board.  I cut off the excess fabric.... and it looked something like this.

  See my socks with flip flops?... Classy.

Anyway, the bottom was fine, but a little....unfinished?
So I took some brown paper and a pencil, and I traced around the edges of the board, and cut out a rough shape of the board.

However,  I had to make little holes for the legs.  So I marked with a pencil where each hole fell on the brown paper...
And then I took an Xacto knife....


And sliced out the little holes.  I didn't care if it was perfect, cause really, nobody is going to be looking.

So, I made sure that the paper and holes fit on correctly...

And I trimmed a little off of the sides of the paper, so that the paper didn't go quite to the edge.
Then I stapled the brown paper on!  Depending on the material of your ironing board, you might have to use the staple gun.

And flipped over, it looks magnifique!

Now, in very little time, and with very little money, I have a simple ironing board that brings a little sunshine to my craft room!

DIY Headband Holder Oatmeal Box Tutorial

Here she is, ladies and gents: A little project I've been wanting to do since our daughter was born.

A headband holder!

It only took me a billion days to decide that I could spend a measly hour doing it....

Until now, my daughter's headbands have been folded very neatly (read: stuffed haphazardly) in a pocket of our baby clothes door hanger.

And now, the headbands are beautifully on display..... behind my locked craft room door.  Because I'm scared my toddler son will rip it apart hahaha.  Maybe someday I'll make a super high shelf in their room.  (Read: I'm going to put THAT off for another billion days.)

*Side note:  I think it's kind of funny when I look up headband holders, and there are these beautiful matchy matchy ones where all of the headbands color coordinate.  Yeah, right.*

Enough talk.
Let's start.

Step 1:

Gather your stuff.
Materials needed:
- Round Oatmeal box
- Cute cloth or paper
          TIP 1: I think that a relatively chill pattern works better, like a cloth canvasy look, or a pretty basic design.  When the design is too bold and cluttered, the whole thing looks 'in your face' when the headbands are put on.  Look these things up on Pinterest, and you'll see what I mean.)
          TIP 2: A thinner fabric will allow the box lid to easily go back on, then you can use the inside.
- Hot glue gun
- Pedestal thingy
- Scissors
- Pencil
- Optional: Iron & ironing board
- Optional: white paper & Elmer's glue

Okay, let's talk about the wooden pedestal thing for a sec.

Cause seriously, I'm not super sure where everyone else is getting theirs from.  Realistically, they are like $15-30 buckies anywhere I'm looking (chunky candlestick holders, small wooden pedestals, etc.), and that's not worth it to me at all.  I mean, you can buy one of these oatmeal box headbands holders off of Etsy for like $20-25, so why would you spend more than that on just the pedestal?

That's part of why I've put off this project so long.  Cause I actually made one of these things about 6 months ago, it just looked weird without the pedestal, aaaaaand I kind of ruined the whole thing with too much lace.  So I trashed it.

But that's another story.

THIS pedestal thingy, I got from a yard sale for.....hmmm...let me remember.... oh yeah. Free.
Holla!  The lady was basically closing down her sale, and I was so pumped when she was like, "Oh, you can just have it."

So I took it home.  A few days later, during nap time, I decided that I wanted to paint it a creamy white, and distress it.
Problem #1: I didn't have creamy white paint.
So, being impatient, I decided that I was going to paint it anyway, but my favorite color of paint ever, some light teal stuff from WalMart.  Bimini or Caribbean or something.

But, being a little less lazy, I figured I'd better sand it a little first.
Soooo this is after a little bit of sanding:

And I realized... HEY.  It's creamy white underneath.

So I ditched the whole blue thing, and decided to just sand it!

I was starting to get super excited at this point...

And BAM!

My creamy white, distressed pedestal, with almost no effort.
I felt so blessed.
You might not get so lucky, so you might have to actually paint and distress yours.  Haha.

Step 2: (optional)

I forgot to take a picture of this, but my fabric was SUPER thin, so the oatmeal box words showed through.  Gross.

(Obviously, skip this step if your fabric isn't that see-through.)

So I made a little paper buffer, by just cutting some white paper and gluing it to the box.

Ta da.

It ain't perfect, but it didn't need to be.  It just needed to work. And it did.

So next, as you can (kind of) see in the above picture (by my bright floral ironing board), I measured and cut out a chunk of fabric for the oatmeal box, and then I ironed it, to get rid of wrinkles.

Don't stress the fabric size too much.  Make it a little too big and you can always cut more off.  Make sure that you have about an inch of fabric on both the top and the bottom of the box, so that you can wrap it around and have clean edges.

Step 3: 

Glue your fabric to your box with a hot glue gun.
Make sure you have extra glue on hand, and that the gun is super hot before you start to use it.

Also, this is a little painful to your fingers haha, but press down on the glue briefly after each time you glue, so that your fabric doesn't have all the weird glue bumps underneath.
Apply as much or as little glue as you need, taking care to get the edges and avoiding bubbles.

*IMPORTANT:  I forgot to take a picture of this, but make a little fold in the fabric end that is going to end up on top, so that you don't have frayed edges on top, but a crisp, folded-under seam.

After you glue around it, it should look something like this.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the blurry picture and the paint on my desk.

Alright.  So, working in small sections with your glue gun, pull the fabric tight and glue it to the bottom of your box, like so:

It doesn't really matter if it's perfect, cause 1. it's the bottom, and 2. we'll be covering it up.

So, set your oatmeal box right-side up on top of another section of fabric, and draw a pencil circle around it.  Make sure to draw on the side that isn't going to be face-up.

Cut it out...

Iron it, and glue it to the bottom.

It's a little lumpy, but it does the job. You could always stick a circular piece of cardboard between the two layers to avoid lumpiness, but I don't care that much.

Step 4:

The top.

Glue the fabric into the inside, pulling tight.

Again, the actual end result doesn't matter too much, as long as the fabric on the outside of the box stays flat and tight.

You'll need to cut another fabric circle for the top of the box.

Trace the top of the box onto another chunk of fabric.
Remember: The picture doesn't extend to the edge of the lid. Trace a line (pictured below) that's about the width of the lid ring, around the inside of your fabric circle.

Cut out the inner circle.

If you needed a piece of paper under your fabric to wrap the box, don't forget to cut a piece of paper to go under this little fabric circle.

Glue down the paper, and then the fabric.

Smooth out lumps and glue as you go.

Now for the pedestal.

Make sure your glue gun is SUPER hot (aka somehow mine got unplugged right here, and I didn't realize it, and I had to do this part like 3 times)....

Before you glue, turn your box upside down, put your pedestal where you want it, and lightly draw a pencil line around the outside of it.  This way, you don't have to adjust the gluey pedestal, you just have to line it up inside the pencil circle.

**Here is a little secret: Because of the shape of my pedestal, there was a space between the top of the pedestal and the bottom of the oatmeal box.... and I wrote a cute little love note to my husband, folded it up, and taped it to the box before I glued the pedestal on.  So, someday, when this thing gets bashed or something, and the bottom falls off, my little note to my sweetheart will remind him that I've always loved him.  Aw.  So cheesy.**

Alright. Next.  Apply a (kind of) huge amount of hot glue to the top of the pedestal, and press it onto the bottom of the box, lining it up with your pencil outline.

Be firm, but don't push too hard, because you don't want to bust through the bottom of your box.

Woo hoo! It's (finally) done!

Adorn your new headband holder with millions of bows, and viola!

The back isn't necessarily as pretty, but it's a great place to clip other little bows....

OR you can throw those little bows INSIDE of the oatmeal box, along with brushes, hair ties, barrettes, etc.

I'm loving my daughter's cute new headband holder!

Let me know in the comments how this project went for you, and where you got your pedestal! :)


Monday, November 14, 2016

8 tips on how to be a good babysitter, from a MOM

Here's how to be a good babysitter, from the viewpoint of a mom.

1. Show up on time.

I'm a hypocrite for saying it, but it is super important, so it's got to be number 1.  The people you're babysitting for probably have an agenda, and they will be more likely to ask you again if they feel like they can rely on you to be punctual.

2. Be flexible.

Kids don't usually follow the perfect schedules that we (as parents) create for them.  If the parent asks you to come 15 minutes earlier or later, roll with it.  If one of their children wakes up unexpectedly from a nap, don't complain about it.  That's what you're there for.

3. You have to like other people's kids.

I know this seems like a given, but the same rule applies to teaching, and you know we all had that one teacher who hated children.
You have to have a high level of tolerance for whining, misbehavior, and crying.  As a babysitter, the children often act out more with you than they do when they're with their parents.  You're new.  They want to impress you.  Or get rid of you, according to the movies.

4. Have fun!

Remember, your best advertising is a child that won't stop asking for you to come back.
Don't play on your phone, even if the kids are taking care of themselves.  I'm personally fine with babysitters being on Netflix or Pinterest when all the kids are asleep, but when they're awake, earn your pay and play with them!  Parents will appreciate when you entertain their children.  When I babysat in college, I would bring a giant hot pink bag with me full of random surprises (frisbees, balls, play dough, puzzles, etc.) and I called it the Magical Bagical (Classy, I know).  Last I heard, one of the little boys I babysat still says "Magical Magical!" when he sees my picture.  Kids remember.

5. Clean up.

Now, I'm not saying that you need to white glove their house, or that you need to feel like their disaster zone is your responsibility.  Not at all.  I'm just saying that you're more likely to be valued (and therefore invested in) when you pick up after the messes that the kids make while you are in charge, such as dishes and toys.

6. Be honest about their kids, but tactful.

Make sure to let the parents know if anything potentially dangerous happened, or if anything got broken.  However, try not to talk too much about how tired the kids made you, or how much they cried.  First off, crying and being tired is the life of a parent, and a babysitter is a temporary fill-in parent, so don't expect better treatment than the actual (unpaid) parent gets.  Chances are, the parents know that their baby is teething and fussy, or that their toddler son throws temper tantrums and their little girl hates broccoli.  Parents are usually aware of their children's problems, and "informing" them will probably come off as complaining.  If they didn't injure anyone, do anything morally questionable, or destroy anything, then don't mention it.

7. Drive.

Now, obviously, this is usually an age thing, but I've had to pick up a couple of licensed babysitters who were perfectly capable of driving a car, but who were too cheap to spend the gas money.  That's super frustrating.  Also, if you're old enough to drive but don't have your license, get it.  I cannot stress enough how much parents love a driving babysitter.  Not only do they not have to pick you up (which, if you do the math, makes them drive twice as much as you would, just to have you babysit), but you're able to transport the kids in an unforeseen emergency.

8. Be available, no matter the time or the day of the week.

If you are always turning down parents when they ask you to babysit, they're going to stop asking.  Am I saying that you should accept that babysitting job at 6:45 AM?  If you're serious about babysitting, yes.   Don't miss school or your own wedding reception or anything, and definitely don't let people take advantage of you, but if you're willing to go out of your way, people will start referring you.

Do you have any other mom tips for babysitting??

Monday, July 25, 2016

Old Beginnings

My husband and I have a lot of goals.
Unfortunately, most of those goals revolve around going to bed early and waking up early.
Some other goals include eating healthy food, developing a good budget, and actually exercising or at least doing something besides walking from the couch to the fridge.
Seeing all of this written down makes me kind of feel like a bum.  I can just see you saying in your brain, "So.  You sleep late, you spend your money poorly, and you're unhealthy?"
Not quite. It's not that bad. Maybe.
I mean, when you have kids, sleeping late doesn't really exist.  I still get up at 7 or 7:30 AM every day.  BUT, I would really like to get up an hour and a half before the kids and go on a run, shower, read some scriptures and pray, and make a good healthy breakfast BEFORE the children wake up.
I know this is possible because we did it, at least twice haha. Maybe even for a week. I can't remember.  It's been a while...
Regardless, this brings me back around to my point.  Old beginnings.  It seems like we have tried a thousand times to "get on a good schedule."  We have started this worn out resolution over and over and still can't seem to stick with it.  We've revamped our plans and tweaked the details and tried to be realistic with ourselves and our time.  And yet each time, it fails. We either set our expectations too high or circumstances change or we just stop caring enough to tough it out when it gets hard.
It's been really hard on us to fail so consistently at these goals that are so good and worthy of our time.
However, I have been blessed by two different experiences recently that have helped my perspective.
Experience #1:
In April 2016, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in the General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (you can find the whole talk here) and in his talk, he said this:
"With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don't always succeed."
This talk made me realize that I need to stop beating myself up for not being perfect, and that God is happy when we try to do His will and keep His commandments. The key is that we have to keep trying, and keep working on improving.  We need to rely on Jesus Christ to change our natures.  We need to get up when we fall.  We can't just be satisfied with how we are.  We can't be apathetic about our faults, but we also can't focus on them too much.  God loves us regardless of our imperfections, and we need to love Him enough to do His will in the best way that we can. Mistakes will happen but we can't give up, because He doesn't give up on us.
Experience #2:
In church on Sunday, one of the speakers told a story that made me realize that my desires matter more than my circumstances. What DO I want? Do I actually want to get up early, or do I actually just want to sleep all day? Do I actually want to eat healthily, or would I rather not give up no-bake cookies? Do I actually want to be active and fit, or am I content with being pretty sedentary? In trying to explain to my husband about my thoughts on the subject, I came across this great quote.
"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse." -Jim Rohn
This is really profound. Seriously. Think about it.  So, I've decided that I need to stop analyzing my actual problems for a little while and analyze my desires. Because if I actually want to be healthy, I'll put in the time for it, even when there doesn't seem to be any time available. If I actually want to renovate my home, I will make it happen. If I actually want to be a good wife or be on time or be happy or learn how to make Taco Bell burritos (although that may go against my health goals...), I will find a way to do that.
Let's change our desires so that we stop making excuses and make things happen.